I've been in a small seaside town in Central California the past week with my writing group. We have come here every six months since October 2006. Of the 12 of us, only eight could be here this week. Getting away with the express purpose of writing is becoming sacrosanct with us. This week I have gotten more writing done than at any other time. The Muse finally surfaced two days ago. Since then, I've rewritten or begun several chapters of my memoir and got a good start on a new short story.
Typically, most of us write all morning, have lunch together, write through the afternoon, then break for drinks, hors d'ouerves and dinner about 5:30 p.m. Sometimes we read and critique our work; most times not. I usually can't write more than a few hours at a time, so I spend more time walking on the beach or photographing the sea birds and landscape.
As a newspaper journalist, I wrote every day, on deadline, and rarely had trouble getting started on something. With fiction, and now with the memoir I'm writing, I find it much harder to get going, and harder to sustain a pace that makes me feel like I'm productive. The Muse comes and goes, but more often eludes me. The creative process bides its time, plays coy, then suddenly pours forth. I'd love to hear from others about how the Muse works for (with?) them. Sometimes I can entice it into coming by for a visit. If I read some poetry, or even write a few verses of my own, the Muse will more easily settle in. Sometimes it takes music and staring out at the ocean waves for long periods. Which doesn't make me feel like I'm getting much accomplished. But then it creeps in, and I'm writing again.
But perhaps that's the point. The Muse can't be forced, can't be cajoled or tricked. It doesn't appreciate being told what to do (who does?). It comes when it's ready. Usually, the wait is worth it.